Press release

Micrasterias - immortal but in the Red Data Book for endangered species

Micrasterias furcata has a diameter of only 0.2 millimeters and occurs in boggy areas. It is classified as ‘endangered’ according to the Red Data Book of 2008. Since it was first discovered and described by scientists it has been observed only in three locations in Germany. The species is classified as ‘near threatened’ in Austria. Image: Dr. Monika Engels, desmid algal collection, University of Hamburg

Algal researchers of the Phycology Section of the German Botanical Society have chosen the desmid Micrasterias as ‘Alga of the Year 2008’. Micrasterias, the name derived from Greek meaning ‘little star’, is a highly threatened, but species-rich and morphologically extremely diverse, genus of green algae. They entirely depend on the presence of unspoilt freshwater bodies for their existence.

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Press release

More Micrasterias images

Micrasterias ceratofera is a spiky exotic species from south-east Asia, first described in 1985. The species lives on the bottom of tropical water bodies such as lakes and rivers, and sometimes free-floating as plankton. In contrast to most of the Micrasterias species that occur in Germany, Micrasterias ceratofera does not inhabit boggy places and its distribution in the tropics does not appear to be threatened. The alga on this image was originally collected from Indonesia in 1983. It was brought back to Germany and has been growing in culture ever since. This culture is available for scientific research in the "Sammlung von Conjugaten-Kulturen (SVCK; Culture Collection for Conjugate Algae)’ at the Institut für Allgemeine Botanik at the University of Hamburg. Image: Dr. Monika Engels, desmid algal collection, University of Hamburg

Photos of the press release "Alga of the Year 2009: Micrasterias - immortal but in the Red Data Book for endangered species


Use of the images is only permitted in connection with reporting on the topic ‘alga of the year 2015’ and only if the photographers are acknowledged in the format: first name, second name, institution. Commercial use of the images is not permitted.

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Contacts for the media

Wolf-Henning Kusber

Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem

Freie Universität Berlin, Königin-Luise-Str. 6-8, D-14195 Berlin
Phone: ++49 (0)30-838-50177
E-mail: w.h.kusber[at]

Dr. Monika Engels

Zieralgen-Kulturensammlung, Abteilung Zellbiologie und Phykologie

Universität Hamburg, Ohnhorststr. 18, D-22609 Hamburg
Phone: ++49 (0)40-428 16 321
E-mail: engels[at]

Further Information

Members of the Phycology Section (Algology) ("> conduct research on algae and investigate, amongst others, taxonomical, ecological, physiological and molecular topics on macro- and microalgae. The Section promotes algal research and supports young scientists. The Section is one of five subject-specific Sections of the German Society for Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG,

Text: Dr. Esther Schwarz-Weig:">
Translation: Dr. Dagmar Stengel: National University of Ireland, Galway